Wisconsin was able to exploit a small Saluki frontcourt the entire evening and outscored SIU 42-24 in the paint. Southern Illinois managed to grab only 17 total rebounds, an all-time Kohl Center low, while the Badgers grabbed 51 boards, including an incredible 29 offensive, which led to 33 second-chance points.
Junior forward Jordan Wilson led the attack down low and followed up her impressive performance in the season opener by contributing 12 points and seven rebounds.
Freshman Danielle Ward made her presence felt by finishing the night with 11 points and nine rebounds in just 15 minutes, just one board away of recording her first career double-double. Junior forward Annie Nelson played 17 minutes and snagged nine rebounds for the second consecutive game. Eight of her boards came on the offensive end, nearly matching the 10 defensive rebounds the Salukis' team produced.
"I can tell Coach Stone has been drilling the offensive boards part of her practice and tonight they used us as part of those drills," Southern Illinois head coach Dana Eikenberg said. "They did an excellent job and that was the difference."
Wisconsin came out sloppy in the first half, but distanced itself from SIU with a 12-2 run midway through the opening session.
The Badgers made adjustments at halftime and dominated Southern Illinois in the opening minutes of the second half, breaking the game wide open. UW used a 14-0 run in the first 6:04 of the second half and held SIU without a field goal until the 12:52 mark. The Salukis shot 46 percent in the first 20 minutes but connected on just 6 of 18 shots in the second half.
"I am very pleased with our team's response to the second half start. We were not as strong defensively in the first half as I would have liked us to be…," Wisconsin coach Lisa Stone said. "We made an adjustment at halftime which was effective because it took them a while to score in the second half."
The backcourt tandem of freshman scoring sensation Anderson and senior guard Stephanie Rich each ran the point effectively, accounting for 15 of the Badgers' 25 assists. Anderson used 7-of-15 shooting, including 3 of 8 on three-pointers, to reach her 17 points, while Rich added 13 points and nine assists.
"That's great teamwork," Stone said about the point guard duo. "We talk about harmony on offense and I had to have a timeout and I even made reference to harmony, and then when there's harmony it's supposed to sound good. And people laughed at it but its true and they are getting used to each other."
The young Badger team, which includes five freshmen (plus injured center Lesha Jones), two of which are in the starting lineup, has certainly impressed thus far. UW has racked up 82 points in each of its first two contests, 21 points more than its season average last year.
"We are getting to know each other on and off the court and with six freshmen and six returnees that's what it is all about," Rich said.
Janese Banks—the other freshman starter—chipped in eight points, six rebounds and four assists.
Seniors forward Danette Jones and guard Daphney Desamours paced Southern Illinois with 16 points each.
This weekend the Badgers will hit the road for the first time, traveling to Texas for the Houston Classic over the holiday weekend. The Badgers open up play Friday night against host Houston and play Middle Tennessee State Saturday afternoon. The Thanksgiving weekend that the Badgers will spend together will not only provide them with their first major test of the young season, but will also provide an opportunity for the team to continue to jell, this time away from the comforts of the Kohl Center.
"Unfortunately, we [the upperclassmen] all have to room with a freshman this weekend, so we will really get to know them," Rich added with a grin.